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Sony’s acquisition of Audeze is a little baffling

An exploded diagram of the Audeze Euclid planar magnetic in-ear monitor.
An exploded diagram of the Audeze Euclid planar magnetic in-ear monitor. Audeze

Sony is acquiring Audeze, a U.S.-based maker of audiophile-grade wired headphones, IEM-style (in-ear monitor) earbuds, and gaming headsets. But in a weird twist, it’s not Sony’s electronics division that is doing the deal. Instead, it’s Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) — the division that oversees the company’s gaming portfolio including the PlayStation 5 console. The terms and cost of the acquisition haven’t been released.

“Audeze is a premier brand for headphones, and this acquisition highlights Sony Interactive’s focus on innovation and providing the best audio experience to PlayStation players,” said Hideaki Nishino, Senior Vice President, Platform Experience at Sony Interactive Entertainment in a press release. “We’re excited to bring Audeze’s expertise into the PlayStation ecosystem, building on the great strides we’ve made with PlayStation 5’s Tempest 3D AudioTech and the Pulse 3D wireless headset.”

Sony Pulse Explore wireless earbuds for PlayStation.
Sony’s soon-to-be-released Pulse Explore wireless earbuds use planar magnetic drivers. Sony

When Sony revealed that its new Pulse Explore wireless earbuds for PlayStation 5 use planar magnetic drivers, I was surprised. Planar is a fairly exotic audio tech that has historically been limited to wired earbuds that can cost as much as $1,000. It seemed like an even stranger move given that, to my knowledge, Sony Electronics hasn’t created any personal audio products that use planar drivers. The Audeze acquisition explains it — Audeze is known for its use of planar drivers and holds several patents relating to the technology.

The press release discusses this aspect specifically:

These headphones use Audeze’s patented technologies and unique planar magnetic drivers to deliver an outstanding sound experience for consumers as well as recording professionals, including sound engineers at many game development studios. Audeze designs and manufactures its planar magnetic drivers and professional headphones in its California facility. —Sony Interactive Entertainment

Still, despite Audeze’s clear lead in planar and its presence within the gaming community, it’s weird to see Sony’s gaming division acquire an audio company that makes very similar products to SIE’s sister division, Sony Electronics.

SIE says that once the acquisition has been completed, Audeze will continue to operate independently and develop multi-platform products, while benefiting from being a part of the PlayStation ecosystem.

The open question then becomes: To what extent will Audeze’s technology filter over to Sony’s electronics division? Will we see a future version of the company’s flagship wireless earbuds — the WF-1000XM5 — that use planar drivers? We’ll just have to wait and see.

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Simon Cohen
Contributing Editor, A/V
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like…
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